If you were one of the early admirers of the iPod Nano, you might be getting a check in the mail soon.
The class action lawsuit against Apple because first generation iPod Nanos scratched too easily has been settled, and class participants are starting to receive their checks — for $37.50 each. Those whose iPods had protective cases may receive less.
The lawsuit arose in 2005 soon after iPod Nano users began to see scratches and even cracks on their screens; Apple at first insisted the problem affected just 1% of devices, but a class action was eventually filed. In 2009, Apple agreed to a $22.5 million settlement, admitting no wrongdoing.
Nilay Patel at Engadget considers the individual payouts to be miniscule, but it’s important to remember that those receiving the payments did nothing other than buy the iPod Nano in the first place. Trying to sue Apple individually on such a claim would have cost a lot more, and they may have even lost.
Class action lawsuits, which allow large groups of similarly situated plaintiffs to bring claims as one against a defendant, sometimes get flack because the lawyers involved tend to make a good bit of money. On the other hand, without the option of bringing class action suits, many corporate wrongs would go unchallenged because individuals simply don’t have the financial means to pursue claims individually.
Sometimes with class action settlements, it’s also useful to look at the bigger picture.
In the instant case, iPod and iPhone customers beyond that first generation iPod Nano are the true winners — and possibly even Apple in the long run. Because of the lawsuit, Apple understood their devices and screens needed to be tougher and more scratch-resistant. What has resulted are iPod Touches and iPhones that are extremely scratch-resistant and more durable than early models; this advancement benefits consumers, of course, and the increased quality can also even further boost Apple’s name and sales.
So, even though $37.50 may not be a lot monetarily, Apple customers everywhere salute you, iPod Nano first generation pioneers! You have become a part of building a better Nano, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and who knows what else. Hopefully that thought can also help make up for the scratches.